Going Along for the Ride

Life takes odd twists and turns. It seemed to me, when my life-mate — my soul mate — was dying of inoperable kidney cancer, that our lives would never change. He’d been sick for so many years, dying cell by cell, that it felt as if we were locked in a horror show of endless, predictable misery. Last year at this time, his disintegration suddenly speeded up, and he started dying organ by organ. And then he was gone.

I’ve made no secret of my grief, of the pain his “goneness” has caused me, but through it all, I’ve been getting on with my life, trying to open myself to new experiences, trying to hope for . . . what? That is the kicker. How do you know what to hope for if you can’t even imagine where you are headed?

A couple days ago I sat in a restaurant, one thousand miles from our home, celebrating my birthday with new friends and acquaintances I’d met through a grief support group. Though all nine of us are trying to deal with the devastating loss of a loved one, we talked and laughed and had a good time. It showed me that there is life after death — we lived despite our loved ones’ deaths. And it showed me something else. That for all of life’s seeming predictability, it can still surprise. A year ago, when my life mate was a couple of weeks from death, there is no way I could ever have envisioned that restaurant scene.

Back then, I knew I’d have to leave our home, to find a temporary haven where I could deal with my grief, but I had no clear idea of where I wanted to go, and somehow I found myself in the desert. And, since I’d been a virtual hermit for years, I could never have guessed that I would make so many friends. Nor had I celebrated my birthday in . . . well, never mind how many years it’s been. And yet, there I was, with new friends in a time and place I couldn’t have even imagined a year ago.

So where am I going? How will I get there? Who will I be? Who will I be with?  There is no way of knowing. I’ll just have to go along for the ride and hope that everything works out when I get there. Wherever “there” is.